Originally created 05/27/98

Networks shifting shows in furious battle for ratings



Fox is pitting must-be-scary TV against NBC's Must-See TV on Thursdays with the scheduling of Hollyweird, a youth-oriented macabre series from horror filmmaker Wes Craven.

Fox Entertainment President Peter Roth said recently that he hopes Hollyweird will help take some of the wind out of NBC at 9 p.m., where the network is putting the acclaimed comedy Frasier as a replacement for the departed hit Seinfeld.

While Frasier is likely to maintain the momentum of Seinfeld, Mr. Roth said, the audience for the comedy is older and more female, clearing the way for younger, male viewers to tune into Hollyweird. Leading into the drama will be Fox's reality series, World's Wildest Police Videos.

Mr. Roth made the announcement during a news conference in New York called to unveil Fox's new fall schedule. The network's lineup features four new comedies and two new dramas.

He also discussed the network's boldest move -- moving the animated hit King of the Hill from Sundays to Tuesdays at 8 p.m., where it will go head-to-head against two veteran comedy hits: NBC's Mad About You and ABC's Home Improvement.

"We're being characterized as bold for doing this, and a lot of thought went into moving King of the Hill," Mr. Roth said. He compared the shift to one Fox made in 1990, when the network moved The Simpsons from Sundays to Thursdays to battle with NBC's top-rated The Cosby Show.

"When The Simpsons duked it out with Cosby, it really helped establish the network," Mr. Roth said. "And King of the Hill is even stronger than The Simpsons was at that time."

Mr. Roth also had updates on two series from executive producer Chris Carter: The X-Files has been renewed for two more seasons, and Millennium will feature the addition of two younger cast members to aid the moody Frank Black in his battle against evil. Black will also move from the Midwest to Washington, D.C., where he will be a consultant for the FBI.

Fox's new comedies are Costello, starring comedian Sue Costello as a single, working-class woman living in Boston; Feelin' All Right, a teen-age comedy that Mr. Roth described as a "Happy Days in the 1970s" (its former title was Teenage Wasteland); Holding the Baby, about a salesman juggling his high-pressure job and single fatherhood; and Living in Captivity, about quirky characters in suburbia.

The dramas are Hollyweird and Brimstone. Mr. Roth has jokingly described the latter as "Touched by the Devil." The series stars Peter Horton (thirtysomething) as a dead detective who is recruited by the devil to go back to Earth and pursue escapees from hell.